A helping of extra virgin olive oil on a daily basis can help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new report by the JAMA Internal Medicine.
Researchers followed nearly 4,300 Spanish women between the ages of 60 to 80. All of the women were put on a Mediterranean diet. One group received an added serving of about 5 ounces of olive oil, another ate more nuts and another reduced their fat intake.
The group taking the olive oil had about a 68 percent reduced risk for breast cancer compared to the low fat group.
Researchers said that the extra virgin olive oil, the closest you can get to pure olive juice, contains oleic acid and polyphenols, compounds known to suppress tumor growth in lab studies.
Five ounces of olive oil equals 1,000 calorie. While this intake may work as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet, experts said it may not translate to the way we eat in the U.S.
“Adding 1,000 calories a day to a diet where we know obesity is such a problem in this country probably isn’t wise,” UCLA Health breast cancer surgeon Dr. Deanna Attai told 8News affiliate WABC.
She added that all women in the study were eating a Mediterranean diet to begin with and breast cancer cases overall were low. She also pointed out other weaknesses in the study.
“The women were also only followed for five years, which probably isn’t long enough for a dietary intervention,” she said.
Attai said that numerous studies support the many health benefits of eating more fish, nuts, fruits and veggies. While it’s unclear if olive oil is the magic ingredient, Attai said it does not hurt to incorporate Mediterranean-style meals into your diet.